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Better Thinking in the Lost World

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"20 miles as a straight shot," Archeville reminded, "which we cannot make, due to the aforementioned impassably thick -- and possibly mutated -- jungle flora.  Going around will take less time than going through," he gestured to one of the monitors, showing an overhead map of the area, and a winding path appeared in red, which added about 5 more miles.  He then looked back to the crew, "unless one of you has some as-yet-unrevealed botanokinetic powers?  No?  Hrm.  Well, worth a shot."

 

He took a tranq gun and WEST Scanner from Cortez, flashing her another (weak) smile.  They're not bad tech, by any means, and if nothing else I can use them as spare parts to kit-bash something else. 

 

At Henry's comment, he checked the plane's sensors again, as well as his own internal systems.  "I'm not sure my belt's wormhole systems will function over long distances here, due to the presence of the portal and its exotic particles.  I might be able to manage some short-range portals for us, but again, I'll need to get closer to the disturbance to get better readings, so I can properly calibrate my systems.  Ah, my belt's systems."

 

I know Doctor North knows the 'Gravimetric Belt' I'm wearing is a fake, but I don't know if the rest do.  And I'd prefer to keep it that way, for now.

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GM

 

Sgt Henry looked pleased, and Cortez doubly so.

 

"Portals, eh? Where's the fun in that?" asked North. "...only joking, it sounds a splendid way to get their fast. As long as it holds up" he added. "It's your call, but personally I would do the last click on foot. No telling what anomalies might distort the portals as you get near to the Lost world rift" he added. 

 

"1 click is better than twenty" added Henry. "Look, I'm no scientist. But I can tell you this, trekking through a Jungle this thick is hard, sweaty work, and takes it out of you. And its not without its risks. Small risks, but risks all the same. An infected insect bite is enough to lay a man down low" he said, gravely. 

 

"I am a doctor" said Cortez, a hint of pride as she reached for a spare medical kit. 

 

"Well, we are in your hands then, Doctors" smiled Henry again, addressing them both, but looking at Archeville to see if he could conjure up a magic (scientific) portal!

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Delta listened, his face passive before he looked over to Dr Archville and nodded,"Let's walk the last click as suggested, I have had some bad experiences with teleporters gone wrong just recently...visited like 20 dimensions to get back." Even if some of them had been really quick it was still not his favorite experience,"So whatever you think is a safe distance for your teleporter....I have a short range one of my own that I use, but I have ways to chop throw plants too."

 

With a thought the black and red metal on his arms slid aside and two large machete like blades slid into place, sliding out above his wrist, laying flat against the top of his hands and extending out about a foot he chuckled,"Ready when you are, Doctor."

 

Delta didn't take any of WEST's technology, he had enough installed in his body to deal with almost any circumstances.

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"Alright, then," he said, taking one last look at WEST's scanners and his own internal diagnostics, "everyone outside."

 

Leading the team out the hangar door, he selected a spot a good dozen yards or so from the plane, and paced out a circle about 25 feet in diameter.  Once that was done, he held out his Electromagnetic Screwdriver with one hand and manipulated the controls with his thumb, with one thumb while the fingers of his other hand danced across the control panel of his Gravimetric Belt.  Moments later, everyone in the area felt a slight twinge of vertigo as gravitic forces played hob with their inner ears, and a small pinpoint of light appeared about a dozen feet in the air above the Doktor.  The pinpoint created a soft BOOF sound as it expanded rapidly, opening to a 25 foot diameter portal.  The edges were a shimmering blue light, and through the portal could be seen a thick patch of jungle.

 

"That will take us 30 kilometres in," he said, turning to face the others and smiling with some satisfaction.  "I don't trust those energy signatures, so the other 1.3 kilometres or so, we'll need to go on foot."

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GM

 

And so it was, it was so, thusly it proceeded, and it proceeded thusly!

 

Archeville's calculations were predictably spot on. The portal took Cortez, Delta, Henry and Archeville to 1.3KM from the lost world portal. And no deviations or fizzing occurred. 

 

The Jungle was humid and hot - also precitably. Cortez and Henry started to sweat, and took a swig of water almost reflexively. "Sheesh, this is HOT" said Cortez, redundantly. Henry just smiled. He was used to this. But even by his standards, it was a sticky, hot climate. 

 

If one happened to be holding a WEST Scanner, or have certain sensor arrays built into ones body, one could detect something powerful in the manipulation of dimensions. What should have been four dimensional space time looked suspiciously like 8 and half dimensions. 

 

They were near the portal, no question. But now, it looked like something was interfering with the portal. 

 

It was out of view - for now. Just over a kilometer of think jungle blocking the view. 

 

Sgy Henry pulled out his machete and gave Delta a nod. "Time to start hacking then" he grinned, although one did need to hack all the way - as think as the jungle was, much could be navigate by foot and a little agility. "And don't get bitten by a snake!"

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The heat was oppressive, but if you are made of enough metal and have a heat sink to disperse it then it becomes tolerable, as he looked around at the jungle various graphs appeared in front of his eyes in various images and he frowned,"This heat is well above the mean for this area...something is affecting the temperature. It might be an excessive energy output by the portal." More information streamed in front of his eyes as his databases provided him with what he needed before he looked at Henry and nodded, stepping next to him and moving steadily but cautiously forward keeping his eyes out for the snakes Henry had mentioned.

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I doubt there is anything here that would be a threat to Delta or myself, Archeville thought in response to Sgt. Henry's warning about snakebites, even with the changes from Darwin-X.  Though we could be in for some nasty surprises!  Still, even in a standard jungle environ, there are plenty of hazards for you and Dr. Cortez to worry about.

 

"Agreed," Archeville replied to Delta's assessment, though he wasn't exactly being honest.  I mean, that sounds like a good reason.  I am detecting several thermal spikes, but I've honestly never done much study of meteorology to determine if that's normal weather patterns, or of geology to determine if the rocks or soil might have some unusual heat-retaining properties.  And this is something I'll need to know, if I'm going to be exploring other worlds!

 

Lost in his own thoughts and examinations, Archeville stood semi-oblivious as Sgt. Henry and Delta began hacking their way through.

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GM

 

And so...

 

An hour of slashing through Jungle in oppressive heat later...

 

Evem Sgt Henry was sweating profusely. The water was being gobbled down at a remarkable rate, and there was an unspoken desire for rain - which never came, despite the awful humidity of the place. 

 

The jungle was greener than anything on Earth, and more alive with insects, birds, and things that crawled and climbed through the trees. Plenty of bloodsuckers thirsted for the four explorers. 

 

And, as they came to within a few hundred yards of the portal to the Lost World, they came across a most mysterious sight. 

 

In a small clearing, maybe a dozen feet across, was a ravaged corpse, all blood, guts, entrails, and bit of flesh that might be a gibbon or a bullabooloon, if such organs existed. It was really rather hard to tell what was what from the bloody mess, although the flies and insects seem to being have a right old feast of the flesh. 

 

"What the hell is that!" gasped Sgt Henry. 

 

Cortez knew he biology, but she couldnt tell. "....I...." she started, half gagging at the smell and the sight. "....I couldn't say...from here...."

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Posted (edited)

Archeville had been content to hang back a bit while Delta and Sgt. Henry hacked their way through, focusing on the flora and fauna all about them.  Most he was passingly familiar with, though some were unknown; whether this was due to Darwin-X mutation or simply never having been catalogued before, he could not say.  He was quite excited at it all -- even happy.

 

Even the smell of the corpse didn't immediately sour his mood, as he mistook it for some exotic flower. The reactions of his WEST cohorts, though, snapped him to attention. He approached the mess, preparing to do his own examination.

 

"Looks to be some sort of dinosAAAUUUGGGHHH!!!" he yelped as a primitive snare wrapped around his ankle and flung him up into a tree!

Edited by Dr Archeville

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GM

 

For a few seconds, Docktor Archeville swung ten feet from the jungle floor, suspended in a tight titanium net. This was a mixture of primitive and advanced. The trap itself, a cunning snare nearly invisible, was old school and expert. The material of the snare was highly advanced and clever in construction. 

 

Then, a dozen monkeys came from the jungle around them. Under cover, camouflaged, but wearing the same spandex uniforms and carrying the same blaster carbines as the dead simian back in W.E.S.T. Headquarters. 

 

Cortez froze. Henry fingered his Tranq-rifle, calculating the odds. They didn't look good. 

 

But of course that was if one didnt take into consideration they had two superheroes on the expedition!

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Delta's hand folded back, his blaster cannon raised to shoot down the Dr Archville, an angry red glow starting to build in the barrel when suddenly monkeys with carbines arrived and he hesitated.

 

Just for a moment, he had met many things on his last Journey through the planes and learned that not everything wanted to kill him..at least not at first.

 

Turning towards the monkey, keeping his cannon pointed away from them he frowned,"Hold! We are here to investigate the portal! Who are you and what are you doing here? Did you come through the portal?"

 

Well he certainly hoped they spoke English!

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From the autopsy WEST's technicians had performed, he knew these primates -- if they were indeed similar to the ones on the slab -- were capable of human-level sapience and vocal communication.  What their language was, was another matter.  Would it be the same as whomever had introduced Darwin X to them?  Something similar, yet altered by their isolation?  Or something altogether different, the result of some completely new linguistic evolutionary path, as distinct as the beings which spoke it?  Would it incorporate gestures, from the hands or their prehensile feet, facial expressions, posture, as standard chimpanzee communication does?  Archeville felt giddy at the prospect of witnessing an entirely new language... or perhaps that was just the blood rushing to his head.

 

Keep them talking, he thought.

Edited by Dr Archeville

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GM

 

The language was English. Or close enough. A mangled pidgin-English spoken through still-simian vocal cords and littered with alien and obscure words. Their meaning was still comprehensible, if a little unclear. 

 

"Who are you?"

 

Well that was clear, and arguably reasonable!

 

"We hunting Sqvrgh DInosaur for Lord-Urghrghu. Make big science with new meat-flesh! Big tasty suppering too!"

 

Slobbering lips added the point that food was food. 

 

"What you doing? We not getting pink two leg flesh today. But if it being on Gruuur menu?....."

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"We are agents of WEST, a organization who is sent to investigate strange planer events...like this portal, do you know much about it?", the question was no sooner out of his mouth than they started talking about big science, tasty suppering and then asked about pink two leg flesh,"I wouldn't suggest it if I was you, you might find your appetite outweighs your abilities....no who is Lord Urghrghu? Who is Gruuur? Most importantly where does this portal go?"

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Archeville's mind raced to process the new language.  'Gruuur'... third person referent? They're a hunting party, after some sort of dinosaur for their Lord, both for sustenance and 'big science'. And they are anthropophagous, but they weren't expecting to find us.  They may respond more readily to physical threats, which Delta seems to be covering well, but it may be wise to try a two-pronged approach.

 

The German genius closed his eyes a moment and concentrated, first sending a quick text message to Delta.  >Bad Cop/Good Cop act?<  Then, using his meta-awareness of his own thought processes, he switched from focusing on the more defensive and introspective intrapersonal intelligence he'd been running to a more active, influential interpersonal intelligence.  The blood rushing to his head made it a bit more difficult than usual, even with his internal nanites working to counter the damage, and using the tiniest fraction of his gravity-manipulating abilities to counter the effects of gravity's pull.  When his eyes snapped open again, he was, in some ways, a new man.

 

"No, not on Gruuur menu," Archeville's rich tenor voice rang out, smooth and confident, "but come to see mighty Gruuur, and Lord Urghrghu!  We hear of your might, and his big science, come to see wonders!  I am..." he quickly weighed the possible outcomes of giving his name to these beings, in case this 'Lord Ughhrghu' was the scientist responsible for these strange goings-on and had mentioned his name in some rant or another, and decided on some simple monosyllabic pseudonyms, "am Science Lord Vha.  These are my allies, SWAT Del," he pointed to Delta, "Serj Mac," he pointed to the machete-wielding Sgt. Henry, "and Science Lady Tez," he indicated Doctor Cortez.  "We work together, make big-big science, yes?"

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GM

 

The Monkeys were confused. This was not, it seemed, part of their plan. Despite being vastly more intelligent than regular monkeys, they would hardly be called smart. No smarter than the average human, at most. 

 

"Lord---he want to speak to you!" they summised. 

 

When the situation was quite outside their parameters of operation, they defaulted to the best option. Take the problem to someone smarter than they were. 

 

"Lord Uplift want to speak to you! He smarty!"

 

They ushured the foursome through the jungle with blaster carbines at the ready. They did not seem ready to shoot the mysterious strangers, but neither did they seem ready to dop their weapons or their guard...

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Lord Uplift?

 

Delta thought this sounded suspicious at best, but he had found in his interdimensional adventures this far, that if no one was trying to kill you it was likely not to bad and more answers could be had by cooperating for a little before the fighting started.

 

His black and red metallic body parts seemed to absorb the light as they walked, he was sure this would end in a way that would require him to shoot his way through the rifle slinging simians, but for now he was happy to let the Doctor take the lead and charm his way in as deep as they could get before the blasters came out again.

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"Yes," Archeville exclaimed, "take us to your leader!"

 

Once down and marching, Archeville split his time between sending brief text messages to Delta and chatting up the apes.  "We heard much of Lord Urghrghu, of Lord Uplift!  Hear he make dumb animals smart, make four-legs walk on two, make plants bite like jaguar!  Want to see," he glanced back at Delta and the two WEST agents, then back to the lead ape, "maybe even helping!  Can you tell what big-science thing he working on now?"

 

>Delta, are your sensors picking up anything useful?  How are Henry and Cortez holding up?<

 

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GM

 

"Lord Uplift working on SCIENCE!" said the monkeys, with almost theological awe. 

 

One tapped his head. "Make Monkey Smart! Lots of thought rain!"

 

This was greeted with nods of reverence. 

 

"Lord Uplift making all animals smart. Only fair. Fair's fair!"

 

"Fair's fair!" came the ritualised answer. 

 

"Wants to make beasts from land-of-past smart too. Ones that came before men. Fair's fair!"

 

"Fair's fair!"

 

The stomp through the jungle was shorter than one might expect. For through the jungle ahead, below them, shielded by a canopy of thick trees, the explorers could see the glint of metal. 

 

A super-glint of super-metal of a super-base!

 

It certainly looked very advanced!

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Oh....this didn't sound good. Super Scientist, granting a modicum of intelligence to a group of animals and weapons of course teaching them absolute loyalty and doctrine of 'Fair is Fair' which sounded like it could be easily converted to aggression towards those who were naturally intelligent.

 

And then there was a super base, oh great! He'd prefer to launch his scout drones but he knew that would make him slow down, so with a couple of diodes flickering on his metallic skull he switched from full processing to the radio scanner which started to scan ahead of him trying to figure out what was coming, what they were up against and more importantly what they were taking the much more vulnerable humans into.

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GM

 

Even at this distance, even through the wood and leaves of the jungle, Delta's advanced scanners could start pickinng out the details of the base. 

 

It was a dome, essentially. An almost perfect dome, situated elegantly in a slight basin in the jungle, with a canopy of trees grown overhead in a manner that could only be described as by design. 

 

The metal appeared shiny but without any tell-tale glint that would indicate its presence to those above. It must have some special photonic property; something very advanced. Something very clever. 

 

There was one main entrance, big enough for a large truck, or dragged dinosaur, to enter. Two other side entrances, man-sized. All with sliding doors that melded almost imperceptibly with the shiny metal exterior. 

 

The whole base was large, hundred of metres across at least, and fourty metres high. It quite possibly extended significantly into the ground beneath it. 

 

And Delta could spot no weaponry or other defences. 

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Delta switched back to his communicator, sending Dr Archeville the image he had scanned++It would appear to be some kind of base, sealed and without any visible defences...which is more worrying to me.++

 

For now Delta was content to go along and see what this evil doer had in mind.

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'Lots of thought rain'? the chimp's words echoed in Archeville's mind.  Seeding clouds to create Darwin X-laced precipitation?  Are they planning some massive distribution that would uplift animals across the country?  Across the world?  Even if they newly-sapient animals aren't directed by their Lord, the chaos they'd cause...

 

He nodded, "Fair's Fair, yes indeed," he repeated to the apes, "and all of us -- animals, beasts, and men -- being smart and working together, yes?  Each work together, to benefit all!"  He feared this 'Lord Uplift' was including some decidedly anti-human sentiments in with his teachings, but it was best to confirm it before getting deeper in.  And perhaps begin to work on subverting them.

 

>>Worrying indeed<< he texted back to Delta's HUD, >>the construction seems focused on stealth, so there could be anything concealed within.<<

 

Archeville pointed towards the main entrance, "ooh, that big enough for two Sqvrgh, I bet!  Gruuur build this for Lord Uplift?  Look like good, strong walls!"

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"Fairs Fair!" agreed the monkeys. The sentiment about working together seemed to go down well. A few hoots and clapped hands indicated so. 

 

"Gruur IS Lord Uplift!" they clarified. 

 

Monkey slang clearly was a confusing thing. Even to monkeys. 

 

"Walls strong! Magic Metal Made by Lord Uplift!"

 

"Grruurrrrr!"

 

Closer up, Delta and Doktor Archeville could see what Delta's sensors had picked up. A shiny metal without a glint. To touch, it was almost frictionless. And it had a mild static charge. Not enough to cause more than a slight zing, but it would fry insects and even more conveniently, repel dirt. 

 

Shiny indeed!

 

Almost silently, the front doors glided open via a smooth sliding mechanism. 

 

"What have we here? Welcome. Dinner is served...."

 

It came from inside, through speakers, a confident, measured, slow, and well elocuted male voice. 

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Hunh, looks like I mistranslated some bits there, Archeville thought to himself.  I'll need to watch that.

 

He nodded at the apes description of the dome, "strong indeed!  And shiny, too!"  He leaned over slightly to one of the apes and whispered conspiratorially, "looks tasty, too.  You try licking it?"  He suspected the static field -- which could likely repel microbes as well as dirt -- wouldn't be enough to harm any of them, but it could be a good way to get some of their captors distracted.

 

But before anything could come of that, the doors slid open and the voice rang out.  "Hello!," he called out in response, "we are scientists come to see the great works of Lord Uplift, and perhaps join him, if he deems us worthy!"

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